SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Several California Highway Patrol officers are being recognized for their indispensable service to an elderly man who was left stranded on the side of the freeway over 100 miles from his home.
CHP Officers Chapman and Youngblood located 79-year-old Ralph Laster at about 5:30 a.m. on April 19 on the northbound side of U.S. Highway 101 around the Gaviota area. Mr. Laster was inside his car which had run out of gas.
The CHP officers called AAA, who responded and filled Mr. Laster's car with two gallons of gas.
"Mr. Laster told the officers he was traveling from San Diego to his home located in North Hollywood. The officers on scene thought there may be something wrong, as he was over 100 miles north of his home," said the CHP in a statement.
The officers decided it was best to take Mr. Laster back to the Santa Barbara CHP station and figure out the next move. One of the officers drove Mr. Laster's car back to the station.
"Officer Youngblood knowing the vehicle was low on gas stopped at a local gas station; she paid and filled up his gas tank," said CHP. "Mr. Laster had no cell phone and couldn’t remember any phone numbers to friends or family to come and assist him. He also related his wife was currently in a local hospital in North Hollywood area, but he couldn’t remember which one."
The decision was made by on-duty CHP supervisor Sgt. Stevens to have Mr. Laster driven home to ensure his safety. While Mr. Laster rode with one officer in his car, another followed behind in a patrol vehicle. Eventually, they stopped on their way to North Hollywood where Officers Barriga and Nees bought Mr. Lester breakfast.
After making it to Mr. Laster's home safely, the officers began making calls on his behalf looking for family members and friends to look after Mr. Laster. They also located his wife at a hospital in Sherman Oaks.
Mr. Lester was eventually taken to the Sherman Oaks hospital to be reunited with his wife.